Whether you are a film shooter or a digital shooter, an amateur or professional it’s a great idea to have a catalogue of your camera gear (or maybe your flashlights, if you’re Mike.) If you are like Nicole and I and have amassed a collection of old cameras – it’s nice to have a list handy of what your collection holds. Or if you are a Pro, it’s great idea to have your gear logged with all your serial numbers for insurance purposes.
There are of course many ways you can go about doing this (and no time like the present to do some organizing) but I will talk about what Nicole and I use to catalogue our cameras. I also like to use it to catalogue rolls of film I’m in the processing of shooting or have shot. That is, when I remember to input them when I load a new roll!
The app we like to use on our phones is called Air Table for Apple iOS. It is now available to use on your desktop/laptop computer too! I believe it is available platform wide, as I use it on a PC laptop. Which I’m very excited about, as sometimes you just want to see everything BIGGER! This is not an ad for this app, I’m just sharing with you what I use. I’ve found it very simple to use and easily customizable so far though. You can make different tables for all different kinds of uses and then you can make different tabs within each table. You can even cross reference different items within the table so you can link them together. Say a camera body and all its lenses. It is essentially a user friendly spreadsheet…but way more fun. Another great feature is that you can share your table with someone else. Whether you want them to just be able to view it or if you want them to be able to add to it as well. Nicole and I like to share each others collections so we can see who has what…
Here are a few views of the iPhone version of the app…
First is the main listing page for my camera gear collection. As you can see along the top it gives you various fields that you can fill out for each item. Along the bottom you can see my different tables I have. “Cameras”, “Lenses” and “Current Film In Use” and a category you can’t see in this view “Shoots.”
Since I’m a big list person….I love that you can create whatever fields you want and then categorize them all, which in turn allows you to filter everything for whatever view you like. Want to see all your box cameras only? No problem! Here’s a view of the individual item screen, where you can see the different categories I’ve created. As you can see you can also add photos of each item of course! More on taking your catalogue photos later on….
In the last image above you can see at the bottom where I have linked this camera to another entry on the “Shoots” tab, where I have added some photos I took with it. On that tab I have when/where/what film recorded (in theory haha) and any other notes that pertain to that roll.
There are so many options for customizing this app so you can make it work very easily for your needs. As I mentioned, the other tab I have going on it is the film I have currently loaded in any given camera. Which is a great plan….when I remember to record that information when I load a camera! The only work around I had to create myself, which seems to work well enough, was differentiating a roll that was in use vs done. I did this by putting “DONE” or “OPEN” in the title of the film and then creating a filter option at the top that searched for just that word in the film title. As well as an “all” filter, that will show everything (ie, no search field entered.) Again, you can then of course cross-link the film with the camera, lens, etc on your other tabs and later to the Shoots tab when you have some of your photos back from it!
So that’s the catalogue side of it. But what about taking photos for your catalogue?
Well chance are if you are here you are a photographer, obviously. So no doubt you can take some decent photos of your items! There are a few tips and piece of equipment that can help you get nicely lit photos with lots of details so you can see what you need/want to see on your equipment though. Here are two ways to shoot your gear to get good results and see the details of each piece.
While at home currently, Nicole gave this option a go…
“The easiest way to do this is on your phone but as I like to make things difficult for myself so I’m using my digital Fujifilm XT-1 with the 56mm f/1.2 – on a tripod as well too so I can used a higher aperture setting for more depth of field. Of course this gives you better results in the end and a better quality photo though! I don’t really have anything light in color in my apartment to put my cameras on, and really no accessible tables so I was forced to improvise with a really dirty piece of foam core I have for blocking the cat off the patio in the summer and a stack of books. Which means a bit of post editing in Photoshop to clean up the background. Luckily though I have a large window/patio door in my apartment to set up in front of. Best to try this on an overcast day and take advantage of nature’s softbox. Though today my light is not constant as the sun keeps poking in and out from behind big gray clouds – typical BC weather.”
Here’s her set up and results…
Orange Monkie Foldio or similar Studio Set Up
The other option if you have access to it, is the Orangemonkie Foldio. It comes in 3 different sizes, with various lighting options. Here’s a link to the one of the ones we sell in the store: https://www.beauphoto.com/product/orangemonkie-foldio2-plus/
It comes with LED lights that work pretty well, but you can also purchase more robust lights, which add a more of a key light at the front of your subject. https://www.beauphoto.com/product/orangemonkie-halo-bar-lighting-accessory/
I (Meghan) was able to borrow my friend/roommate’s Orangemonkie Foldio (the smallest version) to try out to catalogue my cameras and it was pretty slick. It is a very lightweight, portable light box with, in this case, one LED light that sticks via velcro to the top of the box. It had 4 different fabric backgrounds: black, white, grey and chromakey green. Since I live with a (different) hairy little roommate and I like the clean look, I went with white. That being said, I still had to use a lint roller on it to keep it clean! I used my Fujifilm XT-2 and 23mm f/2. It gave a nice even light, but I did find it to be lacking in fill or key light at the front, especially since I like to have some type of light to show the front of the lens nicely. So in this case I used my cell phone light and white piece of board as a small fill and reflector. I would have loved to have the Halo Bar lighting however!
Here’s my set up and results…
Hopefully that gives you some ideas to start keeping track of all your collections and gear! Of course this could easily be used for any type of collection you may have! Let us know what you think or if you have another app or program you like to use to keep track of everything.